Effective Studying to Really Remember

Effective study techniqueHere’s a strategy  written for your child. It is called SQR3. It’s an acronym that stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. They may have learned about it in the third grade but I can almost guarantee that they are no longer using it. This process guides your child to interact with the information instead of just passively reading it and expecting it to stick. Here are the five steps to really reading and remembering what you have read using SQR3 (Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review).

  1. Survey means to look through the whole chapter that you need to read and check out all the pictures, graphs, subheadings, words in bold, and questions at the end of the chapter if there are any.
  2. Question – make up some questions as to what you think is going to be important. Why are you reading this, what is important about this chapter and what do you hope to learn from reading it? You can also turn the subheadings into questions to help.
  3. Read the first page and then stop.
  4. Recall – what did you read about? Try to remember as much detail as you can (no peeking). Saying it aloud helps your brain to remember.
  5. Review – now look at what you have just read and recalled. How well did you do? Did you get all your facts right? What did you miss? Reread it if necessary and try again before going on to the next page of text.

Continue with this process of read, recall, and review all the way through the chapter. Write down key facts in a graphic organizer or on index cards to help you study later. If you don’t like to write, then record your thoughts on a digital recorder and then listen to them until you can predict what comes next.

This is a great way to study for a test. Start on Monday doing the SQR3 and then Tuesday use your graphic organizer (GO), flashcards or notes to review. Wednesday do the SQR3 again (it should be much easier this time) and any notes from class. Thursday review everything (text, notes, GO, flashcards, chapter headings) and if possible have a family member ask you some key questions.

This process gets you more involved in the reading. You will not remember things if you are just passively looking at them. Sometimes when you read for a long period of time, you actually zone out a bit (especially if it is not your favorite subject). This process makes you an active learner. Active learners learn better.

What are the steps for SQR3?

Give it a try this week and especially for finals.

Hey Students – It is OKAY to Get Help

Good grades start at home

The best kept secret these days is that going to see the teacher after school can improve your teen’s grades. Over the last several months I have asked a number of students (many of them clients whom I see because they or their parents want their grades to improve) if they go after school to get extra help. 90% of them say no. They say things like, “I can do it on my own I just have to take the time, work harder, study more,” etc. The other 10% say they have and that they found it helpful. If your teen is part of the 90%, you might want to ask your friends if their teens go after for help. Then without mentioning names of course, you can say you know of x number of other kids who do and they found it helpful maybe their grades have even gone up.

I usually suggest that for a teen’s toughest subject, they go after once or twice a week for two or three weeks and then compare their grade on the most recent quiz or test to one that they had before they started going after school. Once they see that the scores have gone up (and that some of their friends are there too) they might not be so apprehensive about going.

If that does not work then encourage them to at least ask the Internet wizards by searching for their topic/problem online. Sites like www.khanacademy.org, (video and audio combo makes this site my favorite) www.quizlet.com, (for flashcards and flashcard practice) and www.factmonster.com (although I don’t like the fact this site has ads) are places to start. Students can even “Google” quadratic equations for example (or whatever is stumping them at the time) and come up with over 4 million sites that can help. Sometimes students cannot understand the concept from the way it was presented in class, just getting another perspective from the Internet can make it click. Yes, I do recommend reading Sparknotes too if they struggle with reading comprehension, but they HAVE TO do the reading first and course notes for other subjects.

Winter break is a great time to take a look at some sites and do a little recon work to find help for those concepts they may not have mastered. Dare I say the midyear exams are only a week away. Whatever they have not understood up to this point, usually comes back to haunt them on the midyear or final exam.

It is okay to get help. Working harder at understanding something that you truly don’t understand is usually ineffective. As a coach I find guiding students to find their own solutions (and making it look like it was their idea) is very rewarding for all.

Motivation Holds the Key – For Students


Motivation is that hidden power that gets you to do something that you might not have otherwise wanted to do. It has been defined as an “incentive, drive or desire to do.” It is the inspiration that pushes you to score that goal, or ace that test. It can help you keep at something when you would prefer to quit.

Now I know that it can be difficult to motivate yourself when it comes to school stuff. I get that. But without understanding the “why” behind what you are doing, you may never find that extra motivation to get you through the tough times.

They say there are two types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Some people are motivated by external or extrinsic rewards – things that can be bought or received (games, toys, $). Others are motivated by internal or intrinsic rewards. Intrinsic motivation is like the special feeling an “A” brings, or that feeling of pride in yourself when you make the honor roll. I think there are two other types of motivation – pain and pleasure. For those that are motivated by pain, they work harder to avoid the “pain” (getting grounded or losing the computer). Those motivated by pleasure are motivated to get things done in order to be rewarded like extra time with friends, or staying up later. So, once you know which motivates you, you can create options for increasing your own motivation.

Today I’d like you to think about what motivates you. What gives you that extra energy or incentive to push harder when you really don’t want to? Is it extrinsic, intrinsic, pain or pleasure motivated? Why are you working hard to get good grades and what helps push you to work your best? Share with your parents and get them on your team. You are half way through the school year… knowing this and using it, can help you through the rest of the year.

What is your key to motivating yourself? Finding your “why” and making it important. That will help you push through when the homework or the studying gets tough because you have a reason that is important to you. You have found what motivates you.

Motivation holds the key!

Homework Help for Parents

Is your child spending hours doing homework and then struggling to get up the next morning? With the first quarter coming to an end you will be able to see what grades all that studying has produced. Is the time spent reflected in the grades? If not, here are ten tips to help

1. Have your student start their homework within 30 minutes of arriving home from school.  Waiting until after dinner only makes the brain work harder since the body is working to digest dinner.

2. Have them take time to have a snack of protein and complex carbohydrates (the brain needs energy too) before getting started or to nibble on while they work.  

3. Doing something active for about 15 minutes even if it is just walking around the neighborhood or shooting a few hoops will help send blood and oxygen to the brain.

4. Set a timer for 45 minutes and have them get to work on the toughest subject first. If you feel your child does not have an accurate sense of time you might want to use a kitchen timer or time timer that shows the passage of time.

5. Make sure all the supplies they need are within arm’s reach of their study space.

6. Limit the distractions. Keep the TV off and the noise level low so that they will not be distracted by what others are doing. If your child is an auditory learner, having music playing in the background can be helpful. There are classical compilations designed to enhance concentration.

7. Help your child estimate how much time they think it will take to complete all homework accurately and completely and then add 30 minutes. The general rule is 10 minutes for each grade level. For example, a sixth grader should have about an hour of homework. Suggest they plan what they will do for fun or relaxation when their homework is done.

8. After working for 45 minutes or so, students should take a 10-15 minute break. It should be long enough for them to get recharged but not long enough for them to start something else.

9. Don’t over book your child! Kids need “downtime” too. Take a look at their schedule and make sure they have time for homework,  friends and family.

10. Use a central calendar that is updated each weekend for the upcoming week and have students write down their commitments in their agenda books. Family meetings help insure that everyone knows what is coming up for the week.


Next: Learning styles and how they can help save time.